Did you know that women and people who period need an extra 200 calories a day in the week before their period?
This is because preparing for and having a period is an energy intensive process and the body needs extra fuel. Pass me the cake….
But in actual fact, our recent survey revealed that the top craving during this time is chocolate (67%), no surprise there!
But holistic nutritionist Sally Beaton says that these types of craving are all cultural and actually the reality is its more likely that we’ve been conditioned through the TV/films we’ve all watched growing up that it’s a natural tendency to reach for chocolate when that time comes.
Sally says this is particularly common in the UK, and craving chocolate before your period isn’t necessarily a standard craving throughout the rest of the world.
So why do we get these cravings and what does our body really need? Here comes the science bit…
Handling our cravings and allowing ourselves to give our bodies what they need is important, but it can be hard to handle period cravings and not let them take over.
The lovely Sally Beaton, a Women’s Holistic Nutritionist, shares her tips on the best ways to understand cravings and how to handle them.
Sally said: “Women don’t have the same energy needs or appetite throughout their menstrual cycle, but most don’t know this. The week before a woman’s period, (during the luteal phase) and especially the few days leading up to her period, a woman’s body needs about an extra 200 calories.
This is because preparing for and having a period is an energy intensive process. A woman’s body wants to make sure she has all the fuel (and back up stores of energy) she needs for shedding the
lining of her womb.
Carbs and sugary things are normally the things women crave most during this
● These are often the things that many restrict in their diet the rest of the month and a
woman’s body actually needs carbs – especially in the week leading up to their period. Often cravings intensify as a means to get a woman to eat foods that release energy quickly so the body can use right away.
● A woman’s moods can drop the week before a period (this is normal and natural and meant to nudge the individual to spend more time resting/looking after themselves). The foods a
woman craves are ones that give a quick and easy dopamine hit in an attempt to lift their
mood eg chocolate, cake, chips, pizza – anything they associate with comfort and making them feel happy.
● If a woman struggles with her mood and has excess cravings then it would be assumed she is
struggling with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) which is associated with having lower levels of magnesium. Cocoa is high in magnesium, so this could be the one reason why chocolate is one of the main food cravings associated with this time. However, most tend to go for milk chocolate as opposed to the higher cocoa content of dark chocolate so will not be getting the magnesium hit their body is craving.
Sally also shares her top tips for how to manage your cravings:
1) Eat enough! Many undereat to control their weight, which signals to their body that starvation is happening and urges them to eat more. Eating a good amount of protein -especially at breakfast – can keep your body satiated and stop it screaming out for
extra/quick-release calories at certain times of the month. Eggs or avocado are wonderful breakfast staples.
2) Eat carbs! Sweet and white potatoes, squash, rice, beans and lentils should all be part of a balanced diet and especially eaten the week before your period. Pair with protein and fat to stop blood sugar spikes and your body shouldn’t crave the other more highly processed carbs as much.
3) Allow yourself treats. If you love chocolate or pizza or crisps then allow yourself to have
them as a treat. Take your time to truly savour them (because experiencing pleasure can
release anti-inflammatory molecules in your body) and stop denying yourself some of the things you love.
4) Supplement with magnesium. You can either take Epson salt baths, rub a magnesium oil onto your skin or take a magnesium supplement. These can all help reduce cravings and PMS symptoms in general.
So there we have it, the proof we’ve always wanted that we need those extra calories in the run up to our periods and we needn’t be so hard on ourselves. Let’s go easy and not give ourselves such a
hard time during periods. Remember that our bodies are working extra hard during these times and while we shouldn’t deprive our bodies of what we need, we should also give them a bit of what
they’re craving to look after us
Let me know in the comments what your period has got you craving for…..
Sally’s book ‘Get Your Sparkle Back’ is available to buy here